Woman in the moon
|Original title||Woman in the moon|
|Country of production||Germany|
|Age rating||FSK 0|
|script||Thea of Harbou|
|production||Fritz Lang Film for Universum Film AG|
|camera||Curt Courant and Otto Kanturek|
The lunar expert Professor Georg Manfeldt suspects water, oxygen and large gold deposits on the far side of the moon - a theory for which he is ignored and laughed at in science. He lives completely impoverished in the attic of a house. Only the engineer and aircraft yard owner Wolf Helius believes in Manfeldt's theories. Together with the engineer Windegger and his fiancé, the astronomy student Friede Velten, Helius is working on the realization of the first lunar expedition. In the "Helius shipyards" an imposing rocket ship called "Friede" is being built, in which Helius, Windegger, Manfeldt and Velten want to set off.
The crook Turner blackmailed the flight through bomb attacks on the rocket yard and the temporary theft of the construction plans. On behalf of a quintet of shady business people (the "brains and checkbooks") he is supposed to prepare the commercial gold harvest of the moon. In addition, little Gustav, the son of Helius' driver, is flying as a stowaway.
The flight to the moon is relatively smooth, but the landing begins a chain of fateful events. First, when the ship nearly lands, the engine is buried in the moon sand; in addition, the water supplies are lost. Windegger, who proved to be mentally unstable shortly before the start, repeatedly caused unrest in the expedition through panic overreactions. Then Professor Manfeldt had a fatal accident after actually finding gold in a grotto using a dowsing rod .
Finally, in a shootout, Turner, who wants to take control of the spaceship, is killed and one of the oxygen tanks is destroyed by a stray bullet. As a consequence, Helius and Windegger have to figure out which of the two should stay on the moon so that the remaining oxygen is enough for the other passengers' return journey. Desperate Windegger takes the shorter, but Helius, who is unhappily in love with Friede Velten, gives Windegger and Friede Velten sleeping pills in a farewell drink and instructs the boy on how to steer the spaceship. The rocket ship leaves the moon without Helius. Helius, who voluntarily stayed behind, hopes that he can soon be saved by a second expedition to the moon. To his surprise, however, peace has also lingered. She had noticed the sleeping pill in her potion and understood Helius' plan.
Script and title
The title of the film, which highlights the fact that a woman is flying with the daring company, is based on a novel by Thea von Harbou .
Similar to Metropolis , Fritz Lang's other great science fiction film, Woman in the Moon is very long with over two and a half hours of running time. It is roughly divided into two parts, the first of which is more likely to be assigned to the espionage genre, while the second deals with the launch of the moon rocket, the flight to the moon and the stay on the satellite.
The striking poster, dominated by a rocket, was created by the graphic artist Kurt Degen , who has already designed posters for Metropolis .
Technical elements and trick technology
Fritz Lang attached great importance to a scientifically founded representation of the technical details of take-off, flight and landing as well as the lunar landscape within the framework of the state of knowledge at the time. Therefore, Professor Hermann Oberth , a pioneer in rocket research, was hired as technical advisor . Another rocket pioneer, Rudolf Nebel , was hired by Oberth as a technical employee, and the two of them together designed a two-meter-long rocket which, at the suggestion of Willy Ley, was to be shot into the sky for advertising purposes, but unfortunately did not work. The rocket, the launching frame and other components were used by the rocket developers in the newly founded rocket airfield Berlin- Reinickendorf after production . The best scenes in the film emerged from the technical elements combined with good trick technique. True to the theory of the astronomer Peter Andreas Hansen and the scientific assumptions still widespread at the time, oxygen, water and gold actually appear in this story on the back of the moon.
On the occasion of this film, Fritz Lang invented the countdown that initiates the launch of the rocket, just like the later real moon flights: “When I turned the take-off of the rocket, I said to myself: If I get one, two, three, four, ten, fifty, one hundred count, the audience doesn't know when it starts. But if I count backwards, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, ZERO! - then you understand. "
The film was shot by Universum Film AG from October 1928 to June 1929 in the Ufa studios in Neubabelsberg in Potsdam . A lunar landscape and an imposing black and white moon rocket were built in the film studio. In order to represent the lunar landscape as realistically as possible, a freight train load of 40 wagons with Baltic sand was brought into the film studio for the shooting. The actors were fitted with special shoes with dummy lead soles, which in the film were supposed to indicate the compensation for the lesser gravitational pull of the moon.
The appearance of the film rocket with its black and white paint (for absorption or reflection of solar radiation, depending on the rotation) is reminiscent of the V2 , the later "miracle weapon" of the Second World War . This is probably due to the fact that Hermann Oberth and Rudolf Nebel were technical advisers on this film . They were convinced that a moon flight, as shown in the film, could be realized in the immediate future: “It is not ' Kintopp ' what is being played here,” wrote Ley at the premiere, “it is one, albeit practical Truth not yet fully achieved. "
Oberth was a member of the later V2 design team from Wernher von Braun .
In the film, only the ignition of the actual launch of the rocket is shown, because until then no one had succeeded in launching a guided rocket. Theoretical considerations by Hermann Oberth led to the conclusion that a larger manned rocket had to be launched from a water basin because it was too light to stand free. The ship is equipped with cabins on several floors with beds in which the crew straps themselves for takeoff. There are loops on the ceilings and floors so that the crew can stay in weightlessness . As with Jules Verne, it was assumed that weightlessness would only exist for a short time, at a point where the gravity of the earth and moon would cancel each other out.
The crew also takes a look at the globe , shown here as a circle with a clear view of the continents, surrounded by a thin aura of atmosphere. Because oxygen was suspected on the far side of the moon, the ship has to land on the far side. The globe disappears from view. This immediately triggers anxiety and homesickness in a crew member. Lang filmed the overflight over the moon as realistically as possible, the ground rolling under the camera, and the greater curvature of the moon ball compared to the earth becomes clear. The lunar landscape itself consists of sand and sand dunes and very steep mountains. In order to counteract the lower force of gravity, the crew wears something like lead shoes with thick soles. The spacesuits initially used, which look like old-fashioned diving suits, turn out to be superfluous because you can breathe on Lang's moon.
Since by the time the work was completed, the sound film had already begun to quickly displace the silent film, the representatives of the distributor UFA wanted Lang to add sound effects to it later. For artistic reasons he fiercely resisted the request, which led to a complete rift in the already cooled relationship with the UFA.
- Germany: October 15, 1929 (UA)
- Great Britain: July 22, 1930
- UNITED STATES; February 6, 1931
After approval by the film censors on September 25, 1929, the film was premiered on October 15, 1929 in the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin and distributed by UFA Filmverleih GmbH (Berlin). Nobel laureate Albert Einstein was also present at the premiere of the film .
Success and reception
Commercially, Die Frau im Mond was rather disappointing, but it went down in German film history as one of the last great silent films.
In the 1960s, Fritz Lang was repeatedly invited as a guest of honor and speaker because of his innovative achievements with Frau im Mond in the field of US space travel.
"For the film", as it is called on the record labels, two theme songs were also written that were sold on gramophone records. Examples:
- Beautiful woman in the moon. English Waltz (Jerry Wiga, text: Armin Robinson, Charles Amberg ) for the film “The Woman in the Moon”. Marek Weber and his orchestra, with refrain singing. Electrola EG1614 (BNR 821-2), recorded in the Beethoven Hall in Berlin.
- Beautiful woman in the moon. English Waltz (H.Wiga, A.Robinson, Ch.Amberg) on the film "The Woman in the Moon". Fred Bird Rhythmicans, vocals Luigi Bernauer . Homocord 4-3370, mat. No. H 62 177 / Made in Germany 1930
- Secretly love sings for us, English Waltz (W.Schmidt-Genter - F.Rotter) to the film "The Woman in the Moon". Fred Bird Rhythmicans, vocals Luigi Bernauer. Homocord 4-3370, mat. No. H 62 176 / Made in Germany 1930
The film had its German television premiere - split over two evenings - on July 12 and 13, 1969 on ZDF , 40 years after its premiere. The Evangelische Film-Beobachter wrote the following criticism (conclusion): “One of the last films that Fritz Lang made in Germany, an entertainment film, one-fourth from utopia and three-quarters from an unimportant love story. [...] Nonetheless, in places very gripping and impressively staged. Particularly interesting for film historians and long-time specialists. "
In contrast to other German silent films of the 1920s, Frau im Mond has survived without major losses. The film was restored in 2001 by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation . A DVD edition of the restored version has been released with a newly recorded music improvisation by the pianist Javier Pérez de Azpeitia.
- Thea von Harbou : Woman in the moon. August Scherl Verlag, Berlin 1928 (novel based on the script).
- Thea von Harbou: Woman in the moon. Roman (= Heyne books 06, Heyne science fiction & fantasy 4676). With a picture and an afterword on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 1st moon landing on July 20th, 1969, edited by Rainer Ersfeld. New edition, paperback edition. Heyne, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-453-03620-4 .
- Rudolf Freund: Woman in the Moon. In Günther Dahlke, Günter Karl (ed.): German feature films from the beginning to 1933. A film guide. 2nd Edition. Henschel-Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-89487-009-5 , p. 193 f.
- List of important German films
- List of films forbidden under National Socialism
- Science fiction films of the 1920s
- Woman in the Moon in the Internet Movie Database (English)
- Woman in the moon at filmportal.de
- Woman in the Moon atRotten Tomatoes(English)
- Woman in the moon at murnau-stiftung.de
- Contemporary film criticism / reviews at filmhistoriker.de
- Andreas Kilb : From the romantic early days of rockets - moments in German film (I). In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , February 7, 2010.
- German-language review on Vidgames.de
- Olaf Brill: German moon landing in 1929. On einestages.spiegel.de
- Release for Woman in the Moon . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , February 2007 (PDF; test number: 44 207-a K).
- Horeis, Heinz: Rolf Engel - rocket builder from the very beginning . Ed .: TU Munich. Munich, S. 14, 19, 26 .
- Laurence A. Rickels: The Autobiography of Art Cinema, University of Minnesota Press , 2008, p. 150
- Reimer Gronemeyer: The sky: Longing for a lost place , Pattloch eBook 2012, ISBN 978-3-629-32034-6
- adz.ro: "Woman in the moon with Hermann Oberth in the dream factory -" German Hollywood "100 years young" adz.ro from April 24, 2012, accessed on April 20, 2015
- World premieres according to IMDb
- Patrick McGilligan: Fritz Lang. The nature of the beast. Faber and Faber, London 1997, ISBN 0-571-19175-4 , p. 145.
- listen on youtube
- listen on YouTube
- Evangelical Press Association Munich, Review No. 324/1969